Marja Kolu, Peter Johansson Läski sulaa / Fläsket brinner


“The idea for the exhibition Läski sulaa (The Fat is Melting) is rooted back to our previous collaborations at Saarijärvi Museum in 2006 and Purnu, Orivesi in 2014.

We are both born and raised in the countryside, Peter from Dalerö, Sweden, and Marja from Keminmaa, Northern Finland. Both of our childhoods in the rural areas during the 1950s and 1960s were spent in a strict, religious environment singing psalms and listening to preaches. Our ambition to strive for change and challenge through art stems from these early experiences. We are both interested in people’s behaviors and choices behind their actions. How does the background affect the person? What makes intolerance thrive? Why is it that so often racism is nesting in small country communities?

We are both trying to awaken a reaction in the public, to make people experience things differently and to observe the environment around us in a new way. We want to create joy, arise conversation – anger even. We have set ourselves outside as observers of the phenomena, questioning and thus seeing more.

The title of the exhibition is meant to be provocative, through which our installations explore difficult themes such as inbreeding in small communities, pedophilia, racism, and even fanatic nationalism that is hidden under the hem of parochial folklore. We wish to challenge and make different conclusions than the ones that we were taught as children. We want to encourage people to do the same. Our art is humane and humorous. It penetrates the skin and makes fat melt.”

Marja Kolu (b. 1956) has been building her installations from found objects from flea markets and junkyards for over the past 30 years. She does not collect things to storage, but in her own words “the objects ask me to join me”. These already once used objects form a unity of time, place, and material, a unity that is a statement on behalf of the common man – against the mainstream machinery and conspicuous consumption. The artworks in the exhibition demonstrate timely topics: overeating and a throw-away society. Kingsize GRILLGRILL consists of disposed grills. The nature falls ill, the globe gags and hurls. One part of the world’s inhabitants suffer from starvation and another part is waiting for an obesity surgery. Meanwhile, the advertisement for grilling equipment competes on size and performance.

Peter Johansson (b. 1964), a Swedish-Danish visual artist laughs at the clichés of his home region through his sculptors and installations. Dalarna in Sweden is presented to ecstatic tourists as a national romantic paradise of folkfore dances and red cottages. Johansson wants to make visible the other side of this idyll: the parochialism and racism. At the beginning of the 21st century, Johansson has widened his approach to other similar nests of nationalism in different regions and different countries. At the same time, he has focused on the forgotten secrets of his family background. Irony and laughter move from private to public until the dialogue between these different aspects reaches dissonant cacophony in the red devil’s temple.

Text: Tarja Talvitie, MA, art researcher

The exhibition is supported by the Swedish–Finnish Cultural Foundation, The Swedish Cultural Foundation in Finland and Regional Council of Ostrobothnia.

Picture: Detail from GRILLGRILL!, 2020 by Marja Kolu

Marja Kolu, GRILLGRILL (Hommage to Ossi Somma), 2020 © Titus Verhe
Peter Johansson, Jag vill att det skall vara helt tydligt vad detta handlar om, 2012–2020. Photo: Titus Verhe
Marja Kolu, GRILLGRILL! (detail), 2020. Photo: Marja Kolu.

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